Bryan may blather, but any who know me will tell you I rant. Back in 2015, I wrote about why I was kicking my nearest King Soopers to the curb. After the post went viral, the grocery chain execs promised change — and we did get some. As soon as I was confident my photo with a big red slash was no longer posted on the employee break room wall, I started shopping at my neighborhood store again. And most of my shopping experiences went well. Until yesterday…
But, let me backtrack for a second. Last year, King Soopers raised the ire of customers by ceasing to double coupons. They swore that prices would be lower and we all would be happy with their new digital coupon system. In other words, they would be in control of what “deals” are available and who can take advantage of them. Like many, I’m still married to paper coupons. Digital isn’t my thing.
Granted it was an adjustment. I now have to recalculate my savings at King Soopers because many coupons are still less than $1. And frankly I haven’t seen any huge shift downward in the pricing of most grocery items.
The good news is my nearby Albertsons transformed into a Safeway, which still doubles coupons. So, I’ve reallocated my shopping pattern to buy more at Safeway and somewhat less at King Soopers. Still, there are some King Soopers sales that meet my sniff test and they stock certain brands I can’t find elsewhere.
About yesterday… as some of you are aware (especially those who have taken my workshops), I coupon for charity. What that means is I gather coupons from friends and neighbors and go out and find groceries, toiletries and other items for a local nonprofit that serves families in need and abused children. I rummage through clearance shelves, look for discontinued product lines and special sale tags. When I can get a deal on toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste and the like, I buy it, often for pennies on the dollar.
I don’t abuse the system, nor do I cheat. I don’t use more coupons than allowed. I don’t use a coupon on a product it wasn’t designed for and I don’t clear out the shelves. But over the course of a year, I can take about $500 and buy about $2500 worth of products.
Yesterday morning I went over to King Soopers early before the store got crowded. Coupons in hand I walked every aisle and even found a few items on the clearance shelves. This week King is doing its Buy 6 for $3 promotion. That means if you buy 6 designated items (they don’t have to all be the same), you get $3 off at the register. And you can combine those savings with coupons.
I picked up some lotion, body wash, shampoo, etc. All items that families can use. At self-checkout I carefully watched the register to ensure all my prices can up as marked (that’s an important thing to do as scanners are notorious for being wrong). Then it was time to use my coupons.
Let’s pause for s second. Why is it that King Soopers clerks, especially those who work self-checkout, seem more interested in chatting up their fellow employees than engaging with customers. I’ve yet to use self-checkout in the last six months when the clerk was actually paying attention to the shoppers and not gossiping or shooting the breeze with another employee, or two.
Most actually give you the evil eye for interrupting their conversation when you hand over coupons. Folks, break time is break time and work time is when you are to help customers.
But I digress. I handed over my coupons (breaking up a conversation — surprise! — between the clerk and her pal) and then watched as the coupons appeared on my checkout screen. That’s when I noticed that one of my two 75¢ coupons didn’t go through. The coupon was for a $1.50 body wash. I walked over to the clerk and pointed out that she had missed one of the coupons.
She admitted she had and scanned it again. It wouldn’t go through. Then they tried to double team me. Another clerk told me that I could only use one coupon, which is incorrect. With this coupon you could use two, one for each bottle of body wash, and yes, I bought two. The clerk just kept saying, “Well the system won’t put it through.”
Uh, it put through the first one. She just looked at me blankly. I asked if she could override and got a big, “No!” Granted its just 75¢, but I’m a pro at couponing. How many average couponers on a tight budget are being cheated? If I hadn’t watched the register I wouldn’t have even spotted it and certainly the clerk wouldn’t have notified me. She was going to simply take the coupon and the store would have received the reimbursement.
I long for the days when Tony was my go-to clerk at a now-closed Safeway. If the register gave him any sass, he just took charge and if a coupon was valid, gave me the credit I deserved. No one broke any rules, he just realized that sometimes the register scanner isn’t always right.
Granted stores are being ripped off by coupon fraudsters so I understand their caution, but even I can tell a valid newspaper insert coupon (the slick paper, the glossy look) and can read the fine print.
Unfortunately King Soopers has fallen back into its old habits of putting clerks with limited knowledge of coupon rules and procedures (and without the authority to fix a problem) on the front lines. They need better training and while it’s tedious working the self-check line, the socializing among themselves instead of engaging with customers needs to stop.
Dear King Soopers,
Please put the service back into customer service.
P.S. Kind MHOTC readers, thanks for letting me rant. I feel much better.
Amen! Their customer service is way below par and prices are the same and I have to bag my own groceries every time I go! What happened to hard work?
I’m glad you’re verbalizing this… it is important to do so, especially when one has a forum like MHOTC. I tend to stick to Yelp, which hardly reaches a soul.
Anyway, 75 cents is almost nothing for the store in exchange for a satisfied customer… it may be 10% of a customer’s hourly pay, though… more if you’re a student or without a secure job. Also, coupons are usually from the manufacturer.. which means the store gets reimbursed!
I hope you were able to speak with a supervisor or return to customer service for $ back, Laura!
Laura – I agree!! I’m a paper couponer as well, and I prefer self checkout bc the prices at King Soopers sometimes ring up incorrectly. A lot of the time, if I don’t keep track of the number of coupons I give to the self checkout clerk, they will take a few and just keep the rest. Now I’ve come into the habit of saying to the clerk, “I have 10 coupons for you today.” That way, if I count on the screen that they only took 7, I can easily point out the mistake. I do prefer Safeway bc they double the coupons too. Target has given me issues too, making up rules that there should be one coupon per order, or a max of such and such coupons per order, which is always frustrating. I don’t understand why stores aren’t more coupon friendly, esp since they get reimbursed for over the amount of the coupons value.
I second your issue with self checkout. The folks watching the registers are rarely watching them.
I have had multiple problems with KS, too lengthy to go into, the managers all know me. Issues that are not fair to customers. What happened to the coupons they used to mail out to customers in the USPS? I haven’t seen mine in a year or so, although I saw someone using theirs a couple weeks ago. And I absolutely HATE the digital coupons and the big-deal free item which is seldom available when I get to store 2 days after the announcement. They don’t listen to feedback which is especially annoying.
I also have had numerous problems with KS. Why is it if I shop before 9 am on weekend mornings that I have to self-check? Really difficult to self-check a cartful of groceries. Even after 8, there may only be one lane open. I’m also finding better customer service at Safeway & Costco, so why spend my $ at KS?
I just have to give a shout out to my KS. The gentleman that works the self checkout is always friendly, engages in conversion with customers and is quick to answer the call for help button. Everyone there is always friendly and helpful! It’s the only one I’ll shop at!
I appreciate your rant but wanted to give credit to my local KS! KS at a University/Dry Creek, you’re doing things right!
agreed! OMG. King Soopers used to be my go-to store. Now, for the same reasons, you have listed, I can’t STAND it. What’s even sadder is that I have 2 siblings who each have over 30 years of employment with the store, so I have tried to be loyal. No more. It seems like EVERY time I go, I run into an issue with prices scanning incorrectly or YES – the fight over coupons and unhelpful, argumentative clerks.
Laura, is there anyway to recieve info on where you are donating everything? I moved here about 3 years ago and would like to donate ised clothes/toys/etc to a women and children’s center. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
I had my husband read your post & he said that sounds just like me! I too
was a big double coupon fan donating thousands of dollars worth of items
to the Arvada Food Bank since 2011. It was truly amazing the buying power I had with coupons. I did not like the change, but I accepted it. The problem I have with KS is they keep changing “policy” without bothering to
notify their customers of the changes. I will play by the rules, but I NEED TO KNOW what they are when changes are made. I prefer to check out
myself because I can keep track of everything at my own pace. Just
yesterday I didn’t get my double pts. (an offer good through Jan 31).
When I called customer service I was told it happens ALL THE TIME.
REALLY??? What a way to run a business! I take the time to respond
to their survey invitations. Can’t say I have seen an improvement on
the issues I have reported. As for shopping at Safeway, are you joking?
They may have some good sales, but the staff doesn’t know which
end is up!
June – I just sent you a private email. – Laura
That is great to hear. Every so often you do find a wonderful store and/or clerk… someone who takes it upon themselves to be a standout in the field and/or the store has a manager who really motivates their staff. It’s a trickle down effect and when the person at the top is proud of their workplace and attentive to customers it does show at all levels.
You do have to watch your coupons. Sometimes they miss scanning them. If you don’t pay attention then it could cost you in a long run. When it does happen I would be at a loss because I don’t want to inconvenience by having to go back to customer service and try to get my money back. Also sometimes when they do have the mega sale and they scan an extra item then not only you paid for the item you didn’t buy, your participating items are also screwed up. It seems like I spend more time at the customer service trying to get my $1 back. But hey they add up!!!
I had a coupon issue also. They (KS) would not budge in giving me the correct and honest discount I deserved. I had to return the item. I too shop for my local food bank. I use the FREE FRIDAY giveaway..but if you don’t click on the digital coupon for the free item on Friday.. you lose out on the freebie. Also I am shopping more at Safeway/Albertsons than I ever did before due to the coupon issues. Luckily I have both stores near by. I DO use both stores apps on my cell phone but do not like KS app over the ease of Safeways. I have written to them several times about their app and suggested improvement…but nothing has happened yet. Another rant..are the new marked off car parking spaces near the front door for those who order online. In the weeks they have marked off those spots for only those who are to pick up their order, I have only seen one car there. I feel sorry for the disabled or elderly that would love to use those parking places themselves. I have no idea why KS is becoming so unfriendly. So unusable. I could rant for a few hundred more words but will leave this note semi short. Thanks for letting me rant.
Thank you for your rant! I too am frustrated with KS and their new coupon policy. Not that I am an expert couponer but I do try and those coupons I use help a lot for my family. I have to say that I was very intrigued that you donate back I think this is wonderful! Have you ever considered or heard of Purse with a Purpose?
I have written up incidents of terrible customer service MANY times and the response from corporate is that they’re sorry I wasn’t happy but their employees always do what they’re trained to. They used to be great but not anymore.
I also dislike that they discontinued double coupons…and I am not near an Albertsons/Safeway but I must say the store in Broomfield on 120th and Miramonte has some WONDERFUL staff and I would not go anywhere else. But the new employees seem to think they are doing you a favor just showing up…there should be more training so they know how to treat the customer.
Thanks you so much for this article. I thought I was the only one. They have truly lost my business.
The problem with cashiers not being great at customer service comes from the top-managers down. Once, I had an experience with a district manager, talking to a deli clerk, I asked him for directions in the store. He literally, looked away and ignored me, and awkwardly the deli clerk stepped in. Then I could realize why all the people working in the store, looked like they hated their jobs.
And the computer at the Lafayette store is not up to date on sale items.
Yesterday, Sunday, my wife and I went to Kings and bought 12 Minute Maid Frozen Orange Juice. There was a $.30 discount on the price and if you bought 6 cans, you got an additional $3.00 off or $.50 per can.
The $.30 discount was picked up but the other discount was not pick up automatically. I went and photographed the price tag on the display and we got it cleared up at customer service.
I don’t go with my wife shopping a lot, but she says this happens a fair amount of time where the prices in the computer are not up to date with the price out in the store.
you said it correctly. I too use coupons and usually check myself out as always have a small amount. I always know what the price of my items are. sometimes their paper receipt is hard to figure out. Thanks for your e mail each and every day. email@example.com Winona
Overall I have had excellent service at my primary King Soopers in central Boulder. There is an occasional problem but virtually all have been resolved to my satisfaction. They even often go above and beyond what I would think is reasonable, including at other locations. I guess it’s only news when something doesn’t go to your liking.
If there is a problem, be persistent and objective but polite. I am disappointed by the discontinuation of “double coupons” but almost all coupons are for name brands anyway, not store brands which generally cost less to begin with. And I love the Free Friday Downloads at King Soopers (it does say Friday (Pacific Time) after all; the hardest part is finding them in the store if there is no regular Free Friday Download display or it is refrigerated or frozen or not highlighted or tagged in the regular store shelves)!
P.S. The King Soopers gas points surveys appear to use Central Time (limit one survey per seven days). Other KS offers might use yet another time zone.
Thank you Laura…..your outrage & disenchantment with King Soopers is shared by many! I too am sick & tired of being ignored or treated rudely by their self-service clerks in particular. Though I have had similar treatment by many of their regular clerks. What happened to courtesy?! UGH!
It’s rather rude that you’re ***ing on an entire franchise based off your experience with one specific store. It’s probably poorly managed, because I never run into your issues with the the three that I visit frequently.
Some things to consider:
1. Clerks are people too. They’re probably bored out of their minds just standing there and doing nothing all day. It’s human to socialize when many customers refuse to.
2. Many grocery stores are converting to digital and self-checkout. Some companies like Walmart have already started making moves to pure self-checkout (think about costs). Get used to it, because complaining won’t do you any good.
3. Consider a famous phrase: Good, Fast, Cheap: You Can Only Pick Two! If you have problem with fast and cheap, then King Soopers is not your best bet and you should go to Sprouts or something.
I feel like this post and your previous post are one-sided, and you don’t think about the company nor it’s people. Start looking at the whole picture.
Thank you for your comments as you speak for me as well. I hardly shop at King Soopers since they stopped doubling coupons. If they have an item at a great price and I have a good coupon for it I will shop there, otherwise I go to Safeway which is directly across the street. At least I can get my coupon doubled. I’ve had some of the rudest supervisors when I’ve asked for help with the mega sale and the items did not show up when scanned but I had a picture of the sale sign on my phone.
I myself have not noticed a lowering of prices as they stated when they stopped doubling coupons, and I notice most of the digital coupons they offer are 50 cents or less and they are for their branded products only.
I know they’ve almost entirely lost my business, it was interesting to read how many others are fed up with this store too.
I’ve been shopping KS for the gas points for a few years now. For the past few months my engine started vibrating, not a lot, but enough to cause concern and annoy me. Three different certified mechanics hooked it up to their computers and nothing registered as being wrong…they all told me to bring it back when the check engine light came on. Then, about three weeks ago, I was almost empty and not near my KS store (Leetsdale & Cherry) so I pulled into a Sinclair station that was convenient, and filled the tank. The vibration just went away. There is something funky in the tanks at that Leetsdale & Cherry King Soopers. I doubt that they would respond if I told them. Maybe when they read this, they may check into it. (I, too, and considering moving my shopping to Safeway.)
I’m a young mother and would like to know more about couponing. I don’t want to be anywhere near extreme but would like to get more for my buck. Do you do more workshops like that?
Thanks for your good work with the charities, everyone!
I agree on the digital coupons and “freebies” on Friday. Turns into a hassle.
We do have excellent people and service at KS at 104th Avenue an Washington in my experience.
We do give several workshops on couponing and are happy to speak to groups at community centers, churches, libraries, etc. If you want us to appear, please find a host / location and see if they will book us for a talk in your area. – Laura
Sherry, Good to hear that you have good people in your store. This isn’t a universal condemnation, but obviously my experience is shared by many. There are some checkers I avoid and others who I know are terrific at their jobs and will sometimes wait in a longer line if it means I can interact with one of the more experienced or friendly checkers. – Laura
from a Happy Fort Collins KS shopper,
It’s your site and your soapbox, but there have been so many in agreement with you that I have to weigh in and say that KS employees and managers at MY KS store bend over backwards to satisfy a customer. IN fact they often honor a coupon with what seems to be just a general generic override, if it gives them trouble. I am not saying there is not an occasional honest mistake, but considering the volume of business they do, my receipts (which I do check and keep track of) always reflect the savings I expected.
Perhaps you should take up your issues with management at each particular store. All I know is that the two stores where I shop are extremely well run, and the employees are friendly and helpful.
And at my store, if I shop early the self checkout clerk is glad to call someone to check me out in a line if I request it. I do that if I have a lot of groceries, especially produce.
I am not affiliated with KS in any way, just a happy customer. I shop other stores for sales, for organic products, and some meat (I don’t like Moist and Tender pork for it’s brined taste, for instance) and I was nervous when KS became Kroger affiliate, but it is still the best store here.
So I say, talk to managers at your particular store with your concerns. Fill out those sales ticket feedback surveys and if there are enough negatives it might have an impact. (never won anything yet but here’s hoping). Use the website to ask why you aren’t getting mailed coupons. Be the squeaky wheel.
I use their points for gas discounts AND cell phone service and save a fortune that way.
And just one word about customer behavior. I don’t tolerate rudeness from a clerk but is do understand that people have good and bad days. i know I do. I am ALWAYS polite to someone who is serving me. If they are poorly trained, or poorly managed, it is management who should deal with an issue. If self check out clerks are not paying attention it is because their managers are not paying attention. If they don’t know policy on coupons, it is their managers who have not made that clear.
Like I said, I used to shop at locally owned stores here in Fort Collins, but they are gone. Even then, I found many great prices and always friendly service at KS. For a big chain, it runs a pretty good store. Safeway here used to NEVER have more than 2 lanes open except right after work (they are better now), so I shopped them less often.
So I am not trying to disrespect your rant. I just want to give another perspective.
Thank you Mary. At MHOTC we always welcome and encourage our readers to tell us what is on their mind and/or offer a fresh perspective, even when don’t agree agree with us. Especially appreciated is when it is done in such a nice manner. – Laura
I am in no way associated with Kings. But I have to think that with the thousands of people that Shop at every store, daily, they do the best job with customer service possible. I understand when I shop right when the store opens, I may have to do self checking. That’s because I understand that Kings is there to make a profit and watching labor is a huge way to do that.
Couponing is a great way to save money, But nowadays more people have access to iPhones and computers, then news papers/coupons. Hence they are reaching far more customers with discounts.
Try being a little bit more understanding. Not everyone is there to make you happy.
Also I’m sure Kings did a thorough market analysis of their couponing process.
Every time I shop at KS ii end up in the huge customer service line because something rings up wrong. So you spend another 15-20 mins in the customer service line. Annoying.
If I’m ALDI or Publix or another competitor I’d be looking at Colorado very seriously.
I would like to second Sarah Flanagan. I also shop at the University/Dry Creek King Soopers. If I ever have a check out issue, it is handled to my satisfaction. I haven’t had a problem with any of the employees. If they don’t have a free Friday download item up front by the registers and I can’t find it, I ask Customer Service. They will call someone over to help me.
There isn’t enough room or time to list all my complaints about King Soopers, mainly in Bear Valley. The people working there are so miserable and it really shows. They make so many mistakes and then argue with you. I only go to Kings when it is a sale I can’t pass up. I don’t even go for the free things anymore.
I live near the K/S #36 in Arvada 80003
This place is the worst Kings in the world. I have a Hidden Advisability (not visible like I’m blind that you can see or can’t walk…) Asked for help and was told by Ast. Tom he doesn’t have time for people like me!!! THIS is against the law!
Need help to get this corrected!!!
Can you help or anybody???????????????????